Amtrak scales back COVID-19 vaccine mandate amid court order, fears of service cuts


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Amtrak is backtracking on its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees after a court decision prompted it to reevaluate its policy and take steps to avoid service cuts the rules might have caused.

Its chief executive officer, William J. Flynn, said the rail service instead will let unvaccinated employees get tested for the virus weekly.

“Recently a federal district court decision halted the enforcement of the executive order for federal contractors,” Mr. Flynn said in a memo. “This caused the company to reevaluate our policy and to address the uncertainty about the federal requirements that apply to Amtrak.”

Amtrak executives warned of service cuts last week because a share of the workforce remained unvaccinated ahead of a Jan. 4 deadline.

This week, the railway said fewer than 500 employees remain unvaccinated. They can stay on the job for now but will be placed on leave if they don’t comply with the new testing policy.

The White House said the new policy aligns with a federal regulation, contested in court, that would require large companies to test workers who refuse to get vaccinated.

“The last data I saw was that 96% of Amtrak employees had been vaccinated. That’s a pretty high number,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday. “So, I guess they’re talking about the remaining 4 percent. And they’re trying to work to ensure that there are adequate employees on the job.”

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

Health, The New York Today

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